How Sharks' Martin Jones went from undrafted prospect to NHL goalie


How Sharks' Martin Jones went from undrafted prospect to NHL goalie

Hockey runs in Martin Jones' family.

His father, Harvey, has been a member of the Vancouver Canucks organization for over 25 years, overseeing the construction of Rogers Arena and currently serving as the Vice President of Construction for Canucks Sports and Entertainment. That connection has had its benefits.

Harvey estimates Martin was exposed to the NHL once or twice a week while growing up. He attended numerous games and spent time in Vancouver's locker room. His teammate -- and fellow goalie -- happened to be the son of Marc Crawford, who was the Canucks head coach at the time. Crawford was able to pull some strings and get both young netminders some ice time with Vancouver's goalie coach, Ian Clark.

"It was a pretty privileged youth for Martin," Harvey told NBC Sports California with a laugh, "being able to hang around the NHL team at that time."

While Martin showed promise as a hockey goalie from a young age, he also was a talented golfer, soccer and baseball player. But when he was forced to specialize in one sport, he elected to pursue hockey. Clearly, that decision has paid off.

"With hockey, he got into fairly high-level programs and played with other really high-level kids and was competing at that level," Harvey recalled. "You go stage by stage and he goes from one level to the next, and you think, 'Well, the guys the next year older -- they're way too good. I don't know how he'll be able to compete at that level.' But the next year he would move up and he'd be able to compete at that level again, so you just keep going, year by year. Pretty soon, he was playing junior hockey and doing very well, and you start thinking maybe there's a chance."

Harvey can pinpoint the exact moment that inkling of hope gained some momentum.

"He went as a 16-year-old, he went to Calgary to play junior hockey in the Western Hockey League for the Calgary Hitmen," Harvey described. "The second year, we went to training camp and I remember after practice ... Kelly Kisio was the coach and he was doing a media interview and somebody brought up Martin to Kelly, and Kelly's response was, 'One day he'll get paid to play this game.'

"That was kind of the first time when I thought, 'Wow, you know, maybe there might be a chance.'"

Kisio wasn't the only one who took notice of Jones, as his Hitmen teammates can attest to.

Brendan Rowinski, who was Jones' roommate while both played for the Hitmen, recalls a conversation with his own father following his first season as Martin's teammate in Calgary.

"If I had to pick one guy on our team who's going to make it," Rowinksi remembers saying, "I think it's going to be Martin Jones."

Rowinski told NBC Sports California that while Jones always has been big, agile and rarely out of position, it is his work ethic that has separated him from the pack.

"He was always the first one on the ice and the last one off, and he always loved being out there," Rowinski remembered. "Always having a good time. A lot of goalies, they don't want to stay for the hard work after practice and shootouts are tough on goalies, but Jonesy was always staying out there and having fun with us."

Bostjan Golicic, another of Jones' Hitmen teammates, added consistency to the list of his best attributes.

"It was hard to score on him because of his size, his ability to move side-to-side and because he is really good at reading the game," Golicic said of Jones. "I think that's one of his biggest strengths. Another is his mental game. He was very consistent for us all of the years, and that helped us win many games."

Unfortunately for Jones, he was stuck behind an older goaltender for his first two seasons with the Hitmen, so when the 2008 NHL Draft came around, he didn't hear his name called.

In a fortuitous surprise, though, he received an invite to attend the Los Angeles Kings' rookie camp that fall. When LA began sending a lot of the undrafted rookies back to their junior teams, Jones was kept around. He remained with the Kings into training camp, and at the end of September, they signed him.

Jones then went back to the Hitmen for two seasons, where he experienced tremendous success. He then played for Team Canada in the World Juniors before moving on to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, where he continued to pay his dues for three seasons. When Kings starting netminder Jonathan Quick went down with an injury during the 2013-14 NHL season, Jones finally got the opportunity he long had awaited for.

And boy did he capitalize on it.

Jones won his first eight starts with Los Angeles, including three shutouts. He appeared in 19 games (18 starts) during the regular season, posting a 12-6-0 record with a .934 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average before sliding back behind Quick upon his recovery. The Kings, of course, would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

Jones started 15 games as Quick's backup the following season, but upon reaching restricted free agency, he was hoping for a fresh start somewhere else with Quick having the starting spot locked down. LA traded Jones to Boston, but that wasn't any better of a situation for him. Then, Doug Wilson and the Sharks pulled a fast one, acquiring Jones in a trade with the Bruins just days later. Upon arriving in San Jose, Jones was the clear-cut starter.

The rest, as they say, is history for the Shark of the Day.

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Over five seasons with the Sharks, Jones has gone 148-95-22 with a .909 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average. After winning the Cup in his first season with the Kings, he nearly did the same with San Jose, but Sidney Crosby and the Penguins had to spoil that.

"When Jonesy is playing his best, his demeanor on the ice, how comfortable he is around the puck, how quiet he is in terms of the movements and his rebound control, how sharp he is ... you can see it, the team feeds off of him," Sharks goaltending scout and development coach Evgeni Nabokov said. "It's great to watch him sometimes when he's on his game."

Looking back on the career his son has had to this point, Harvey is quite proud of all of Martin's on-ice accomplishments. But they pale in comparison to another one of his personal achievements.

"He has always been a real serious kid, very focused and just a really good person," Harvey described his son. "I think, for me, the most important thing is I think he's a really good teammate. For me, that's more important than the success on the ice, is being a good teammate."

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau react to ex-teammates on Sharks' staff


Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau react to ex-teammates on Sharks' staff

SAN JOSE -- No, the days of the player-coach hybrid aren't making a comeback. Although, if you're Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, it might feel that way.

With the introduction of Bob Boughner as San Jose's interim head coach, the organization brought in staff that includes former Sharks Mike Ricci and Evgeni Nabokov -- two players who were on the roster back when the now 40-year-olds hadn't reached their veteran status yet.

"It will be interesting to see them on the bench," Marleau said. "But they're very professional and they'll do a great job."

Marleau played with both Ricci and Nabokov in the early 2000s, while Thornton only logged time with Nabokov after coming to San Jose from the Boston Bruins in 2005. While it has been some time since either newly-appointed assistant coach has rocked a teal sweater, Ricci and Nabokov have stayed with the organization in different capacities over the last few years. Having that closeness and a high level of familiarity is something that can benefit the team as they go through a midseason coaching change.

"I know what they've been through and I know a lot about them, so it's easy to communicate with them," Marleau said.

Thornton agreed with his teammate's assessment.

"They've been here for a long time now," Thornton said. "To have them on the bench now is going to be fun."

Both Ricci and Nabokov have spent the last several seasons working on the development side of the Sharks' organization and have worked closely with players on the AHL Barracuda -- a team that has been coached by Roy Sommer up until he, too, was recently named assistant coach under Boughner. In his introductory press conference on Thursday, Boughner outlined how he believes his new coaching staff might function.

"We met last night as a staff and this morning and we still need to work through some things," Boughner admitted. "But Mike Ricci and Roy are going to be on the bench with me. Roy's going to move to the defensive side and run some power play. Ricci was a great penalty killer his whole career and I think we're going to be able to enjoy some of his expertise. I'll be running the forwards and obviously Nabby will (oversee) the goalies. There are still some job responsibilities we'll have to sort out in the next few days. But for now, I think those guys are excited. It was a big day for them as well."

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As far as reuniting Ricci and Nabokov with their former teammates, Boughner thinks working closely with Thornton and Marleau will benefit the entire roster as the Sharks try to, yet again, turn their season around after a tough stretch of losses.

"I think you can see, even in the morning, there's that report there," Boughner said of watching the reunion during morning skate. "There's deep respect. There's a lot of familiarity with those guys and I think that's going to help. Ricci and Roy have seen these young guys all the way up. I think there's great chemistry that we're going to have there."

Sharks fail to correct bad habits in first game after coaching change


Sharks fail to correct bad habits in first game after coaching change

SAN JOSE -- Thursday could have been a fresh start for the Sharks. As shocking and emotional as it was to go through a midseason coaching change, they were presented with the opportunity to turn things around.

Unfortunately, Thursday's game against the Rangers featured a lot of the same problems. Missed opportunities, loose late-game play and yet another notch in the loss column.

Sure, getting accustomed to a new coach's ways can take some time. But that doesn't give the Sharks a pass when it comes to playing a full 60-minute hockey game.

"It's tough, it's difficult, but there's no excuse," captain Logan Couture said after the 6-3 loss. "Lots of teams have [gone through a coaching change]. A lot of teams in this league have done it and they've gone on winning streaks. The team that did it last year won the Cup. So, we've got to find a way. Tonight wasn't good enough once again."

San Jose did, in fact, have a great chance to get back into the win column in Bob Boughner's first game behind the bench. Even with New York continuing to grind away, the Sharks were able to take a 3-2 lead at the 4:12 mark of the third period thanks to a big goal from Brenden Dillon.

But then the defense took its foot off of the gas and Martin Jones couldn't stop Mike Zibanejad or Artemi Panarin from pushing the Rangers over the hump. In a matter of minutes, the Sharks went from defending a lead to being in a hole they didn't have time to dig out of.

"When you have a lead in the third with 15 minutes left, you have to defend a little bit harder and not turn the puck over like we did," Couture continued. "Play harder in our own end, which we did not. Defend our slot harder tonight, and I don't think we did."

Dillon agreed. "Frustrating when you have a lead like that. Especially at home, we have to be able to close it out. If we give up the tying goal, and then a couple more, it's just frustrating."

Letting up late isn't the only thing that is plaguing the Sharks right now. San Jose has struggled to play a full 60-minute game for the bulk of the season thus far. Thursday's loss showed yet again that San Jose isn't playing full games on a nightly basis -- regardless of who is behind the bench.

"I think we did some good things tonight, but obviously it still wasn't a full 60," interim head coach Bob Boughner observed. "I think in the third period we ran out of gas there a little bit."

[RELATED: Boughner confident in staff, wants Sharks to play inspired]

Martin Jones, who surrendered three goals in the third period, agreed. "Have to play a full 60 minutes, you have to," he said, acknowledging that having an adjustment period with a new coaching staff isn't an excuse. "They had more jump in the third period than us. We've got to find a way in a tied hockey game to come out with a little bit more energy. I don't know how many shots or scoring chances we had in the third, but we need to apply more pressure in a close hockey game like that."

Whether it's applying more pressure or tightening up, the Sharks clearly still have a laundry list of things they need to clean up. Now with the dust settling in regards to the coaching change, San Jose has no other option but to dig deep and keep working.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Boughner reminded everyone. "We'll have a good practice day tomorrow. Sort some things out."